Los Angeles: By the year 2020, senior citizens will comprise approximately 16 percent of California’s population. Although statistically seniors are victims of crime less often than younger members of society, once victimized the effects are far more devastating. Seniors are often victims of fraud, con artists, and elder abuse. Telemarketing is a common method of defrauding the elderly. Con artists frequently use the telephone to entice seniors into various schemes that are designed to swindle seniors out of their money. By being alert, seniors can greatly reduce the likelihood of being victimized.
To further lessen the chances of seniors becoming victims, the following objectives should be stressed:
Stay Alert: Remain tuned-in to your surroundings. Be aware, prepared, and walk confidently. You don’t want to look like a potential victim. Also, trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in a location, leave immediately.
Never: Never open your door for strangers and always insist on seeing proper identification. If someone comes to your home and asks to use your phone to call 911, don’t let them in. Instead, make them wait outside while you make the call for them.
Secure Your Home: Always use deadbolt locks on all exterior doors, have a peephole in your front door, and do not leave a key outside under a door mat or in a flowerpot. Consider the use of exterior lighting and fencing to help make your home more secure.
Fraud and Con Games: Most successful con games are old schemes with new twists. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Some tips that alert you to possible telemarketing scams are phrases such as: "Act Now!" "You’ve won a free gift," and "High profit, no risk!" Also, do not give your credit card number to telemarketing agents who call you.
Commander Sharon Papa, Department spokesperson, states, "We have attempted to establish a crime prevention minded attitude for seniors. We have also covered several aspects of everyday life, where safety can be improved. Be alert, safe, and enjoy life."
For additional information or to obtain a copy of crime prevention circulars, contact the Community Liaison/Crime Prevention Unit, at 213-485-3134, or visit our Web site at www.lapdonline.org and open the "Building Safer Communities icon."